At what point does the thrill of meeting somebody new turn into something more? How long does it take to fall in love?
If you’re wondering what the answers are, you’re not alone. These kinds of questions have kept most of us up at night at least once, if not more.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific timeline; there’s no set in stone answer behind how long it takes to fall in love.
Each relationship is unique, just as you are unique.
But don’t worry, the process is more important than the timeline.
In this article, I’ll break down and explain the stages of falling in love. I’ll also highlight some important things to remember about falling in love.
Lastly, we’ll take some time to talk about a few factors that define lasting, healthy love.
So, let’s get started by looking at some averages. How long does it take for people to decide they’ve fallen in love?
As funny as it sounds, men and women fall in love at different speeds.
The facts say so.
On average, according to a study conducted by eHarmony and YouGov, men on average tend to jump the gun faster than women.
It might seem surprising; the idea generally goes that men are more hesitant to commit than women.
Men will wait on average 88 days to drop the “I love you” bomb. Women will wait longer, closer to 134 days.
So on average, men take around 3 months to feel comfortable proclaiming they’ve fallen in love. Women take closer to 5 months.
That’s quite a difference.
Furthermore, a study done in 2011 found that men, on average, think it’s acceptable to confess they’ve fallen in love around 1 month into a relationship.
Women, on the other hand, think it’s acceptable closer to 6 months in.
The thing is, though, I’ve had several relationships where my girlfriend has said she loved me long before I was ready; I’ve had the exact opposite happen also.
The bottom line is this: each person and relationship is different. Averages don’t give you the most honest, accurate picture of how long it takes to fall in love.
There’s no exact timeline; it’s just too personal of a decision.
So how on earth can I know if I’ve fallen in love?
It’s a good question. The best way to tell, though, doesn’t have to do with a specific timeline. The stages of romance are far more vital to understanding if you’ve fallen in love.
So what are the stages of falling in love? And how are they identified?
The stages of falling in love
Lust is a bit of a stigmatized word. The idea of “lust” is often negative, associated with words like “sin”. It’s seen as shallow, a feeling that doesn’t have value or worth.
But lust is a feeling that should be far from guilt. Lust is an instinctive feeling, something that’s extraordinarily powerful. It doesn’t just have to do with sex, either.
When it comes to the stages of love, it’ll likely be one of the first–and one of the most powerful–feelings you’ll feel.
You meet someone new, and after a few conversations, you realize that they’ve been put on this earth just for you.
That may seem a bit like an overstatement, but sometimes lust makes us feel this way.
Other times lust is purely physical, a sexual desire for someone that seems overwhelmingly irresistible.
Lust is an important part of falling in love (and one of the most fun parts). It may show itself strongest at the beginning of a relationship, but its presence is felt in even the most established relationships.
Lust isn’t just a one-time affair, either, even though it’s often strongest at the beginning of love.
Infatuation is the next big stage of romantic love.
It’s pretty rare to fall in love with someone without going through an infatuation phase first.
According to Merriam Webster, infatuation is “strong and unreasoning attachment.” And while all facets of infatuation aren’t necessarily unreasoning, there is a certain intensity behind infatuation.
You’ve fallen head over heels for this person. You’ve got a “Disney Princess, Hollywood Rom-Com” kind of crush on them.
Not just because you’re physically attracted to them, but because you’re starting to understand who they are as a person.
And you’re enthralled. You can’t get enough.
This stage of falling in love is perhaps the most exciting because it’s deeper than pure lust; your attraction involves who the person is, and the little bit you know about them so far.
According to Eli J. Finkel in a study on the features of infatuation, “some consider infatuation to be a special, perhaps early or intense form of passionate love.”
The study calls infatuation part of the early stages of romantic love, and further explains that “as romantic partners accumulate knowledge about one another, passion emerges as a result of such increases in intimacy.”
Which leads well into the next point.
Infatuation is far from the final stage of falling in love with someone. There’s much more to it. Just as there’s so much more to the person you’re starting to fall for.
You’ve spent the evening with someone and the sparks have been flying. This isn’t the first date you’ve been on, either, and it won’t be the last. Things are going really well, and you want them to keep going that way.
The flame of your feelings seems like it can’t burn any brighter. Maybe you’ve shared a passionate kiss, many passionate moments, intimacy, and things are only getting better.
Passion can be present in a relationship from the very beginning, but it lasts longer than infatuation, and there’s a bit more dimension to it.
Passion involves deeper feelings. People can be passionate about all kinds of things, it’s not just limited to romance.
They say to follow your passion in life. Neuroscience says that passions are really good for the brain, and that passion takes long-term commitment.
That’s a little bit different than infatuation, which follows the whims of the heart and comes really naturally at the beginning of a relationship.
According to Dr. Fred Nour, neurologist, passion lasts two to three years. A lot can happen in a relationship in that amount of time.
Does that mean it takes two to three years to know that you’ve fallen in love with someone? No, of course not. It’s more than likely you’ll know sooner, and feel like you’ve fallen in love long before passion ends.
After the passion ends, though, what else is there to feel?
Believe it or not, there’s so much more to love than just lust and passion. There’s no timeline on how long love lasts, or how deep it gets, or how strong a loving bond can become.
That’s what makes falling in love so exciting. The way we love has no specific definition. There’s not really a way to control love. We are often at its whim, not the other way around.
Because love is such a variable, personal, intimate thing, really only you can know if you’re truly in love or not.
Here’s a few big things that will help you know if you love someone.
Trust your feelings, and your instincts. If it feels like love, it probably is. So don’t second guess yourself and enjoy the journey, whatever stage you’re on.
After lust, infatuation, and passion, you’ll probably start feeling some deeper emotions, and they might make you a little uncomfortable.
Here are some quick signs you’ve fallen in love:
1) You might start having a strong emotional attachment. This means your feelings are growing deeper for your significant other. Emotional attachment is a big sign you’re in love.
2) You’re invested in making the other person happy. You don’t want anything in return, you just want to make sure that they feel cared for and safe. Maybe that means doing things you know they’ll appreciate. It’s a big sign you’ve fallen deeply in love with someone.
3) They make you want to be a better person. You feel like your whole self when you’re around them. They inspire you to embrace who you are and celebrate exactly what makes you so special.
4) You care about their well being. And not just because you’re in a relationship with them. Even if you aren’t together, you still honestly care about them being okay.
5) You’re not afraid of commitment. In fact, if the idea of spending the long-term with this person excites you and makes you happy; you have genuine feelings for them. You’ve probably fallen in love with them.
Here are a bunch more signs you’ve fallen in love.
Some important things to remember
1) Love is long term
There’s a reason people often confuse infatuation for love. The intense feelings of infatuation feel so real, strong, and lasting.
Those feelings can honestly be overwhelming. I personally fall in love very quickly, and that’s due largely in part because my feelings of infatuation can honestly be so overwhelming.
But love is something that will last. How long will it last? There’s no specific answer, no two timelines are the same. It may seem way too short, or it may last a lifetime.
In either case, there are deep feelings of attachment involved in truly loving someone, a sense of kindness and permanence that reaches beyond any of the other stages.
2) Take things at your own pace
Going over the averages at the beginning of this article highlighted the point that people fall in love at different speeds. Even further, each relationship is different.
It might take you all but ten minutes to decide you’ve fallen in love with one person, but for a different person, it might take you ten weeks to reach that point.
So make sure to take things as slow (or as fast) as you think best. Make sure you’re comfortable. If the person you’re starting to fall for tells you they love you first, don’t feel overly pressured to reciprocate. If you’re not ready, it’s okay.
Whatever your pace is, make sure you’re being authentic and honest about yourself and feelings.
3) Don’t overthink it
Love comes naturally. In many ways, love is the opposite of contrived. Love is organic–uncontrollable, even. Sometimes we just can’t help the way we feel, or the way we don’t.
So try not to overthink things. If you’re at all doubtful about whether you’re in love with someone, it’s a good hint that maybe you’re not. Or not as much as you think you are.
An honest consideration of your feelings will always be good, but remember to go with the flow. Love is an unmistakable emotion that doesn’t require a whole lot of thought.
Here are some differences between falling in love and flowing in love.
While we can break down the biology of love and everything that happens in the brain, there’s still a lot of mystery. The reasons for falling in love, why it happens, and how it shapes our lives is so much more intangible than just knowing what chemicals make love happen in our brains.
Why do you think so many musicians write about love?
It’s a universally understood mystery.
Love takes on various shapes and forms and reaches far beyond just romance. At its most quintessential, love is going to be a positive thing.
Here’s a look at 7 different kinds of love.
The way we demonstrate love, reciprocate it, and behave in relationships isn’t always perfect, though. Trauma, neglect, and complexes can warp how we show love in relationships.
Not all love in practice is good. Not all love is healthy.
Here’s a great article revealing some toxic relationship signs.
So what are some factors to help identify healthy, lasting love?
Factors of lasting, healthy love
1) Honesty and trust
Trust is something that will make love stronger. There’s a reason relationships so often end when one person cheats.
They break that trust, the person no longer feels safe with their significant other, and they can’t love them the same anymore.
Trust is vital to healthy, lasting love. According to Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., “when you know you can totally trust your mate, it strengthens your love.”
The ability to be honest about who you are in a romantic relationship is very important. Knowing that you can trust the person you love gives you safety, comfort, and stability.
All of which are key to lasting, healthy love.
Here’s some great ways to get over being cheated on.
2) An emotional connection
I touched on the importance of an emotional connection a little bit earlier in the article. It’s one of the big signs you’re starting to feel real love for another person.
So if a relationship is built only around physicality, it’s not the kind of love that’s going to last very long.
Those kinds of relationships tend to live mostly in the beginning stages of falling in love, with lust and infatuation. Those things don’t last, not without something deeper to keep them going.
A relationship needs intimacy, and a purely physical relationship often lacks it.
With attachment comes a sense of loyalty. If you don’t feel very attached to someone, that love doesn’t run very deep.
So when times get tough or circumstances change (or one of you just gets bored), there’s no reasons to stay, and that love isn’t going to last.
Attachment styles differ between people, too. It’s a good idea to understand your style of attachment, so you can better communicate that with the person you’re falling in love with.
When you understand the role of attachment in lasting love, your relationship will be all the healthier for it.
So, how long does it take to fall in love?
There is unfortunately no set amount of time. There’s no cut and dry answer.
It’s safe to say, though, that being in love with someone comes after several beginning stages, namely lust, infatuation, and passion. So it’s going to take some time to be sure.
But don’t overthink things, follow your feelings and trust your emotions. It’s important to be rational, especially during the infatuation stages of a new relationship, but don’t be afraid to be honest about your feelings.
Love is love, and it’s hard to deny it when you feel it.
If your feelings of attachment are suddenly growing deeper and stronger, it’s a big sign that it’s turning into love.
Once you are head over heels for someone, it’s not the end of the story. Remember that love is complicated and sometimes difficult, but always rewarding.
If both you and your significant other demonstrate loyalty, honesty, and a willingness to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, loving relationship.
Whether that relationship took two weeks to establish, or two years